The Guardian abets my Listmania

Today, D's roommate walks by and finds me gazing raptly at the computer screen.

"I thought you were going for a walk," she says.

"Um.  I was.  I should have," I reply.  "Now I am doing something considerably less virtuous."

"What," she scoffs, "are you looking at porn?"

"Bibliophile porn," I reply. 

I have been ensnared, you see, by the Guardian's 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read List.

Now, you all know how I feel about lists.  I have a bit of an addiction, to be honest.  I can't seem to resist them: they are just so filled with possibility.  They seem to promise (always falsely) that there will be no disappointments here: these are vetted pantheons of greatness, just waiting to be wandered by me. 

I have been deeply in the thrall of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list and the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list for a number of years now, with the lasting effect that I now think about my own mortality in terms of how many books and films will remain unexperienced.  Oh god, I thought the other day, someday there will be a book that I just ... never finish.  This struck a distinctly tragic note with me.

The Guardian's list is considerably less historical in its orientation and notably more generic in its organization.  The result is that there are a lot more mysteries, sci fi and fantasy works, and graphic novels than the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die has room for.  I am doing slightly better with the Guardian's list than with the other, but I have still only read about 17% of the list. 

Let me repeat that: after twelve years of uninterrupted academic study of the field of literature, I have only read 17% of the list.  And I am astonished at how few of the works from the lists I have read in recent, stressful years.  Admittedly I have been focusing more narrowly on my field (drama) in these years, but still.


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